This post has been updated.
There's no question that COVID-19 has changed the way people live in their homes. An increase in telecommuting has led to a heightened interest in home offices and exercise rooms, including the overall needs of the home, such as energy usage.
Freddie Mac recently reported that "household electrical usage in late March was about 22% higher than in 2019," at the onset of stay-at-home orders, with midday consumption (between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) rising approximately 35%. Depending on local utility costs, this would equate to an approximate $25 increase in monthly utility bills in the month of April.
Some local utility companies in states such as California, Michigan and New York have asked consumers to moderate electricity usage as a result of this increased demand. To reduce energy consumption and utility bills, home owners may want to consider upgrades such as energy efficient appliances, heating, ventilation or air conditioning (HVAC) units, windows and doors, as well as the addition of air sealing, insulation, solar panels or geothermal heating.
Although any new purchases or upgrades may cause some to pause based on their current economic situation, energy or "green" mortgages can offer home owners an opportunity to purchase homes that utilize these technologies through mortgages that permit higher debt-to-income ratio requirements. Not only can such energy-efficient upgrades help decrease monthly utility costs, but a study released by Freddie Mac last year has also shown that such features and green-building certifications can increase a home's market value.
Builders and remodelers can utilize discussion points through Home Performance Counts, NAHB's collaboration with the National Association of REALTORS, to determine what energy-efficient features are most beneficial for their clients.
To stay current on the high-performance residential building sector with tips on water efficiency, energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and other building science strategies, follow NAHB's Sustainability and Green Building team on Twitter.